The clacking of Charlene’s high heels echoed down the narrow cement hallway as she followed behind the burly institution guard. He kept glancing over his lump of a shoulder to ogle her. She gave him a saccharine smile every time and put an extra flutter in her lashes, which almost had him tripping over his own feet. Distracted was good.
When they’d reached the halfway point, he hunched over and fumbled with the jangling loop of keys on his belt, leering at her.
Charlene pulled a small compact mirror out of her pink shoulder bag and pretended to check her hair and make-up. The guard didn’t notice the tiny red light on the camera at the end of the hall behind them going out. Just as planned, she thought, snapping the compact closed.
“You’ll have ten minutes, darlin’,” he said as he pushed the heavy metal door open for her. “Give ‘im a good one.”
“Oh, don’t worry.” Charlene winked and tapped her fingers on his chest three times, as if she were brushing away crumbs. “I will.”
Samuel, as his nametag said, gave Charlene a crooked, cross-eyed grin as his eyes glassed over with the haze of her dream spell. He was present, but already lightyears away. Too easy. She slipped into the visitation room, and the door closed behind her. Another intrusive camera watched from the corner, and the scent of pine cleaner assaulted her as she locked eyes with Harold for the first time in months. With a flick of her wrist, that camera too, went out.
The love of her life blinked up at her in bewilderment, sallow and scruffy, wrapped in a pristine white straightjacket. “Harold, it’s me!” she said, her voice breaking. A look of shock, and then understanding dawned on his features.
She lunged into his lap, squeezing him tight and covering his face and neck with kisses. As she ran her hands down his back, the buckles and straps restraining him slithered loose.
“You shouldn’t have come here!” Harold finally choked out before wrapping his arms around Charlene and smothering her with a heated mash of lips.
“Did you really think I would leave you to rot in a drab dump like this?” Charlene scoffed, then stood up.
“No,” he chuckled. “So, what’s the plan?”
“We walk out,” Charlene answered, grinning. “Simple as that?”
“Well, not precisely,” she admitted, drawing a small purple vial from her bag. Before Harold could utter a word in protest, she threw it onto the white laminate floor at his feet. It burst, emitting a green vapid cloud that swirled around the figure of Harold, sparkled, and then cleared.
“I’m sorry, darling.” Charlene sighed as she scooped up the small ferret that lay curled where Harold had been. “It really was the easiest solution.” She dropped the squirming bundle into her bag. “You can change back in the car.”